Saturday, November 18, 2017

day no. 14,271: the main character?

Genesis 46:28
He had sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to show the way before him in Goshen, and they came into the land of Goshen.

As much as can be and has been said of Joseph, as much has been overlooked of Judah. The last 1/4 of Genesis makes clear the main character is not merely Joseph, but Judah, from whom the Messiah would share lineage. Go back and read the "Joseph" narrative and you will find Judah, by name, appearing steadily.

Friday, November 17, 2017

day no. 14,270: all of Israel out of Egypt

Genesis 46:27
And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in Egypt, were two. All the persons of the house of Jacob who came into Egypt were seventy.

Not a single person belonging to the family of Israel was left behind. Everyone went to Egypt. Going forward, anyone who looks back at Israel as the source of their namesake will have a heritage interwoven with Egypt. Years later, God will draw another Joseph to carry His Son to Egypt in order to protect Him from destruction in Israel and then call Him back out of Egypt to deliver His people from their bondage.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

day no. 14,269: far away by contrast, close by compassion

Psalm 5
Lord, You hear everything. Nothing escapes Your attention. No sound goes unheard, no sight goes unseen. In the midst of all You have on Your plate today, please consider my situation. Please don't let my voice be swallowed up or drowned out. You are not just the King of all kings and God of all gods, you are my King and my God. This is the God to Whom I lift my voice this morning. A God Who can hear me; a God far away by contrast, but close by compassion; a God above anything, but involved in everything; a God mighty to save and merciful to rescue.

Just as my hope of deliverance is found in Your all seeing eye, so my assurance that justice will be given to those who defy You is also found in the fact of Your seeing it. You know the flatterer's heart, You see the liar's intentions. You see and You know. I can rest assured in my safety and my enemies' destruction.

No one is safe without You. 
Everyone with You is safe. 
And You know the difference.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

day no. 14,268: God knows and that's enough for me

Psalm 4
God, it's me again. You've heard me before. Hear me again today. I am in trouble. Please help! It feels like no one else gets it and that no one else understands. I feel all alone. Everyone else seems to have it all together even though they live in sin while I feel like I'm falling apart even though I'm living for You.

God is setting me apart. He is consecrating me, making me holy, like Him, altogether different than everything else around me. I know He hears His suffering servants' cry for justice and justification.

I find myself becoming upset when I consider how few follow God and it's the right response. But it is enough for me to know that God knows. I don't have to defend myself and scrap and claw to look like I'm right. I know I'm right because I'm following God and He's always right.

Lots of people want God to bless them, but few people actually want God. Even when they get what they think they want like money, fame, power, a good buzz, an orgasm, popularity, etc… I know I have something better. Everything comes to an end… eventually. Except the One Who has no beginning. He alone endures forever and all those who place their trust in Him will have all eternity to consider themselves wise.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

day no. 14,267: another everyday miracle

Things like sleep, as simple and as assumed as they are for our day to day lives speak loudly to our need to be sustained and kept. we cannot keep ourselves. we must sleep. If we resist, we go crazy or we die. We have to lay down, shut our eyes and let whatever happens to us happen. We must. It is the design of God and there is no getting around it. The fact that we so reliably wake up more often than not is amazing and another everyday miracle we take for granted. We get sick, we get better. we go to bed, we wake up. we get cut, we heal. we get sore, we get stronger. We close our eyes and open them again and the world is still there, as if it depended not on us at all and was quite content with or without us.... and yet we're invited to enter in and be MORE involved and interested by this simple, understated fact of normal, everyday life.

Monday, November 13, 2017

day no. 14,266: baptism 5k

5,000 days ago today I was baptized at Cornerstone Church of Ames by Pastor Tom Nesbitt. I have experienced new challenges and old problems, but have seen God faithfully producing His will in me and through me. Grateful for Good News that only gets better daily.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

day no. 14,265: God never sleeps

Psalm 3
The accusation is either that David is too bad to be saved OR that David's God is too weak to save anyone and either way, everywhere David looks or listens, he hears the pessimistic prophecies of those who wish him the worst. They hope he is beyond saving in particular or that His God is incapable of saving in general.

Yet David insists that God is his shield and shelter. He takes refuge in the God they all say is too holy to notice David or too impotent to rescue him. David raises his cry and aims it like an archer at the throne of heaven. He directs his pleas to the holy city where God alone makes His residence. David expects God to be there, where the holy things are AND he expects God to hear him, even there. David expects his cries to be heard and heeded by a holy and gracious God.

David is a man who can only run so far until he needs to rest. And God allows His saints to find rest in their races. He expects them to be found running and resting, sustained by His strength. Awake and watching, yet sleeping and resting. Nothing is more vulnerable than being asleep. You are protected in that dangerous place by Him. God does not protect His saints by keeping them beyond the reach of needing sleep, He allows them to rest knowing that their God never sleeps.

David fully expects God to wreck His enemies. David has so aligned himself with God that his enemies are God's enemies and vice versa. David delights in the destruction of the unrepentant wicked and the deliverance of the repentant sinner.

The saint will feast forever at the wedding supper of the Lamb while the wicked will have their teeth broken from their jaws. Saints will chew on a feast of meat while sinners will gnash on their just desserts.

If anyone can save, it's God. If anyone will be saved, it will be by God. If salvation is possible, it will be brought to pass by God. If salvation is offered, it will be a gift, a blessing, an undeserved, unmerited, merciful, gracious work of the Lord Almighty.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

day no. 14,264: a land of everlasting and exhaustive joy

Genesis 45:20
Have no concern for your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.

We are called to similar pilgrimage. Where we are going has everything we could ever need. Why waste time dilly dallying with trinkets and toys when a land of everlasting and exhaustive joy awaits? Why hinder your arrival by dragging heavy, burdensome baggage? Leave your hurts, your shame, your achievement, your trophies, and anything else that would keep your feet from sprinting for a glorious home awaits those who run the race set before them.

Friday, November 10, 2017

day no. 14,263: but he knew them

Genesis 45:3-5
And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. 4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life."

Joseph appeared to his brothers. He had been in their midst but they did not recognize him. But he knew them. And he chose to reveal himself to them. This revelation produced shock and sheepish back stepping to which Joseph replied, "Come near, please." 

One day another son of God would be treated shamefully in order to save his brothers. He too would walk among them, back from dead, without their knowledge until He revealed Himself to them. They didn't recognize Him, but He knew them. And even after all that had been done against Him, He chose to reveal Himself to His sinful brothers -- just like Joseph - a type and shadow of the Christ who would come.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

day no. 14,262: the pot shaking its formed fists

Psalm 2
Why do nations rage and why do people push back against Heaven so violently? Because Heaven has opinions about how things are going on earth and we often see those as mean-spirited, restrictive shackles designed to keep us from self-actualizing. At its worst, it is a spirit that would dare proclaim that God is hamstringing us because He is worried that we may overtake Him if we were allowed to reach our full potential. Perhaps we would be King of the hill and He'd be out of a gig.

But vs. 4 makes it clear, that God is not shaken by these empty threats. In fact, He laughs. The ridiculousness of the pot shaking its formed fists at the Potter is more than enough to produce a chuckle. But His romp quickly transforms into rage when He opens His mouth to shout, "The earth is mine and whoever I make its King is truly King indeed!!! My Son will inherit the world and all will bow before Him, either in fearful expectation of death for treason or joyful expectation of living under His rule. He is a living safety for those who worship Him and a death sentence for those who war with Him."

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

day no. 14,261: under the heat of the Son

Psalm 1
The blessed man is first defined by what he doesn't do. He doesn't orient his life around worldly advice, he doesn't anchor his aspirations around his sinful inclinations, and he doesn't find rest in his ability to poke holes in whatever he is being told to do.

Rather, he is defined by his delight in the Law of the Lord. He orients his days, anchors his heart and finds security in something outside himself, something permanent, unshakable, indomitable: the Law of the living Lord and he dedicates his mind to mulling it over day and night and all the time in between. He has developed the habit of seeing and interpreting the world through the lens of the Creator's wisdom.

Now that we know what he does, the Psalmist transitions to explaining what he is like. When a man lives this way, it looks like something. In this case, a faithful, sturdy tree rooted near streams of living water that allow it to thrive and produce fruit that serves as a blessing to others. It is not shriveling up, it is maturing in sturdiness.

Just to be clear, the Psalmist wants to clarify that the man who does all of things that the man of God does not do (see vs. 1) looks like something.  In this case, it looks like chaff that the wind drives away. It has not root and it produces no fruit. It is tossed to and fro by the winds of change without any landmarks to secure its place.

In the end, the rootless will die under the heat of the Son while the faithful will survive and use His rays to produce fruit for His glory, the good of everyone else and the glorification of the tree.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

day no. 14,260: the lion from the tribe of Judah

Genesis 44:33
Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers.

At this point, as far as Judah knows, Benjamin actually stole the cup. And yet, he offers to take his place and substitute himself in order to set Benjamin free. Years later, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, would offer to take the place of those He knew for a fact were guilty so that they could go free.

Monday, November 6, 2017

day no. 14,259: spring in Judah

Genesis 43:9
I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

Judah's heart is being transformed by the Holy Spirit to substitute himself for his brother. He is pledging his loyalty to protecting Benjamin and that Benjamin's fate would now be tied to his. If Benjamin perishes, so will Judah. But this is only the beginning of Judah's transformation. There are more extravagant evidences of Gospel inspiration yet to come.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

day no. 14,258: do you hear what i hear?

Genesis 42:23-24
They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept.

How differently we would speak about others if we knew that they knew what we were saying about them.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

day no. 14,257: happy birthday, Rocco!!!

Happy Birthday, Rocketsauce!!! You are such a special little dude. You are always smiling. You love making people laugh and you are comfortable being the center of attention. You are loved by everyone who knows you. You sleep and eat like a straight up boss. You climb on everything, yet haven't had any major disasters falling as of yet. I love you little man. You love being held. You hate watching your mommy leave. You like it when I make your breath go, "bah-bah-bah-bah-bah" by vibrating my hand over your mouth. You love sitting on the couch and looking at the picture albums of our family. You enjoy chasing your siblings and being chased by them. You make people think that having kids will be a delight. You are an answer to prayer and I am excited to teach you about our God! I love you Rocco, happy 2nd birthday!

day no. 14,257 continued... ripe for rotten

I recently came across the phrase, "when you think you're ripe, you're rotting and when you think you're green, you're ripening."

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

Those we think that they've arrived still have a long way to go while those who see the long road ahead have in many ways already arrived.

Friday, November 3, 2017

day no. 14,256: a better Joseph

Genesis 41:57
Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

Joseph was lifted up in order that the lowly might find temporary satisfaction for their stomaches. God would one day lift up another Son of Israel in order that all those who would draw near to Him would find salvation and eternal satisfaction for their souls.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

day no. 14,255: soap opera grade amnesia

Genesis 40:23
Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

The cupbearer's good fortune produced amnesia. We see here the difficulty of mourning with those who mourn when one is, in fact, rejoicing.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

day no. 14,254: because He said so

Genesis 39:21, 23
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph's charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.

The skeptic again finds fodder to feed their exception. If the Lord is with Joseph, why allow him to be mistreated by his brothers, sold as a slave, tempted by sin, falsely accused by sinners, etc…? With love like this, who needs hate? But God does not here address these complaints, but rather affirms His presence and purposes in being with the ones the world often mistreats.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

day no. 14,253: 500 years ago today

500 hundred years ago today, Martin Luther changed the course of human history. 

So here's a toast to that which is worth protesting and that which is worth proclaiming and the discernment to know the difference!

Monday, October 30, 2017

day no. 14,252: clickity clack

Genesis 39:10
And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.

Sin was pursuing Joseph. This wasn't a matter of Joseph merely staying offline or avoiding the clickbait, this was the pop up ad trying to make you its prey. This is a predator stalking the perimeter, the stumbling block inserting itself under your feet, finding you and hoping to find you out. But Joseph resisted. By grace through faith in God alone, he endured the onslaught of opportunity after opportunity proving that even for mere men in every temptation God has provided a way of escape, that we can endure it.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

day no. 14,251: no matter how you slice it

Genesis 39:2-3
The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands.

One might ask, "If the Lord was with Joseph, why is Joseph enslaved in a foreign land by the betrayal of his own brothers?" But such a view assumes a particular script off which a God must work in order to be the Lord. The question assumes that the Lord's presence or assistance must come to pass in particular ways like health, wealth and prosperity. To be fair, a sign of God's hand on Joseph's life was his prosperity in whatever circumstances his enemies placed him, but the cynic would question God for allowing Joseph to be enslaved in the first place.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

day no. 14,250: from bad to worse

"No problem is so bad that you can’t make it worse." – Douglas Wilson

No injustice committed against us is so bad that it justifies any response we may have to it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

day no. 14,249: fight fuel

Napoleon is often credited as saying, "an army marches on its stomach." 

As much as an army relies upon weapons, strategy, courage, and camaraderie, it relies upon food. A well-armored band of loyal, heroic waifs may fall victim to their pangs before they fall prey to their enemies. 

It is easy to overlook obvious needs when focusing on pressing needs. When you think of battle, you naturally focus on bullets and bombs. The narrowness of the category can push ordinary needs like food and water to the periphery.

Jonathan's eyes were brightened by good food. Not just having something to eat, but having something good to eat made all the difference. Food doesn't just keep us alive, it can give us an appreciation for living and the fuel to continue fighting the good fight. 

God could have made food purely functional, but He made it taste good. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

day no. 14,248: drift and blur

Hebrews 2:1
Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

On our most recent vacation to Custer, I found myself screaming, "Atticus!!!" as I watched him and his brother, Finneas, slowly drive away on an electronic, John Deere-themed gator. We were playing outside and I had instructed everyone to stay within hearing distance as my parent's home is located on a chunk of land in the Black Hills Forest of South Dakota. Atticus and Finneas watched their sisters, Penelope and Laurelai, disappear down the long, gravel driveway clinging to the back of their Papa Tony on his 4-wheeler. So they pirated the electronic gator and gave chase. What of Atticus' eight year old knees were not able to contort into his seat, he splayed out the driver's side "door" as the 12-volt gator struggled down the sloped driveway. As I began to suspect that their difficult journey down the driveway would be matched only by their trek back uphill, I shouted, "Atticus!" The electronic, high-pitched hum of the gator matched by his focused pursuit of his Papa Tony's 4-wheeler drown out my plea. While progress was slow-going, the distance between us was growing and the volume of my intercession had reached its maximum capacity as I screamed, "Atticus!!!" to no avail. They were drifting away. I had shouted as loudly as I could. And they had not paid attention. They had invested their focus on other things. And the road back was going to be difficult, if not impossible.

Hebrews, chapter 1, informs us that God has never spoken more clearly or loudly as He has by sending the Word to become flesh in the form of the man, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is a shout from Heaven, a final Word, authoritative, clear and loud. We must pay MUCH closer attention to what we have already heard, lest we drift away from it. Our focus needs more focus. When we get distracted, we drift. We are always focused... on something. And whatever is not in focus, is blurry and bound to be assumed, forgotten or ignored. 

We MUST focus more on Jesus. We MUST pay the costs associated with focusing on Him. Everything costs something and paying your attention to Jesus will take it from other things. You are either drifting away Jesus by focusing on other things or drifting away from other things by focusing on Jesus.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

day no. 14,247: the LORD will fulfill His purpose for me

Psalm 138:8
The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; 
Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. 
Do not forsake the work of Your hands.

The Gospel is not merely a New Testament invention. Grace by faith in God alone has been and always will be plan A and there is no plan B.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

day no. 14,246: my thirties victory lap

30 came and went without much notice honestly, but 40 feels differently. I am 39 years old today. I don't yet feel old in that I can run, jump, dance, think, etc… like the man of yesteryear, but I am beginning to feel the weight of being older, if only on paper. So here's to one last year of life in my 30's.

Monday, October 23, 2017

day no. 14,245 continued... happy birthday!

I'd like to give a special shout out to two special ladies. 

First, my mom. If it weren't for you, there'd be no me. Happy Birthday!

Second, my wife's mom. If it weren't for you, there'd be no Paige. Happy Birthday!

day no. 14,245: right and wrong

Genesis 38:26
Then Judah identified them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I did not give her to my son Shelah.”

Judah was not wrong to passionately propose that Tamar's obvious sins deserved damnation. He was wrong, however, to overlook the fact that his secret sins deserved the same.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

day no. 14,244: without a doubt

Genesis 27:32-33
And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son's robe or not.” 33 And he identified it and said, “It is my son's robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.”

Jacob was called to identify "the body" so to speak. The brothers had carefully planted the evidence to produce a particular story. But they didn't tell him the story and then ask him to believe it, rather they planted the props and allowed their dad to arrive at the conclusion himself, thus securely anchoring it in their father's mind as the obvious story of what certainly must have happened.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

day no. 14.243: delegating demise

Genesis 37:26-27
Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.”

Judah's two concerns here are that killing their brother won't really benefit them and that their premeditated murder would cost them something. His solution? If we sell him, we can now profit to the tune of 20 pieces of silver. And we can avoid accruing a moral debt of bloodguilt by letting someone else deal with him. Problem = solved! God used Judah's bloodless logic to protect Joseph's life and in turn God was going to use these events to save the lives of these treasonous brothers.

Friday, October 20, 2017

day no. 14,242: engineering the inevitable

Genesis 37:18-20
They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams."

Joseph's brothers sought to put an end to their brother's dreams and in so doing put into motion the very events that would secure its fulfillment.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

day no. 14,241: read the room, Joe

Genesis 37:8
His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Know your audience Joseph. Read the room. Either Joseph is a jerkwad or he's clueless. Either would understandably result in saying this kind of thing to people who already despise you. Now, Joseph is not wrong or lying here. His dream was real and it will really come to pass. And God will even use his telling of his dream to produce the events that will ensure that the dream becomes reality. But that doesn't mean Joseph is doing well to publish it in this way. While Joseph's brothers intended evil was used to produce good by the sovereignty of God, so Joseph's social ineptitude (outright arrogance) was also used for good despite its obvious shortcomings.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

day no. 14,240: everything you wish you possessed

Genesis 37:4
But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

When someone whose attention we crave gives their affection to another, we often end up despising the other rather than the one we are striving to please because our deepest desire is still to be the object of their affection. So when a child desires to be loved by a parent and that parent freely gives their love to a sibling, the child hates the sibling, not the parent for the lack of love they feel. Or when a spouse commits adultery, the wounded partner often lashes out against the other woman or man instead of their spouse. When we want to feel loved by someone in particular and they give that love to someone else, we cannot bring ourselves to hate the one we wish loved us. It is imprinted too deeply to deny. So all that passion is redirected at the one who has everything you wish you possessed: your father's love, your spouse's eye, etc…

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

day no. 14,239: the Lord of the living

Genesis 35:29
And Isaac breathed his last, and he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Isaac lived a full life and now lives in the presence of the God Who calls Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Someday he will rise in the resurrection of the righteous and live fully finally and forever in God's presence along with those who call on the Name of the Lord of life.

Monday, October 16, 2017

day no. 14,238: just desserts

Genesis 34:7
The sons of Jacob had come in from the field as soon as they heard of it, and the men were indignant and very angry, because he had done an outrageous thing in Israel by lying with Jacob's daughter, for such a thing must not be done

Dinah deserved better and Shechem deserved worse. The sons of Jacob could not make right the wrong done to their sister, so they tried to give Shechem the wrong his deed demanded.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

day no. 14,237: God is my God

Genesis 33:3
(Jacob) himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother.

Jacob walked on the street side of his wife and children. He put himself between the danger and his beloved. While one may take issue with the level of meekness he employed in approaching his brother, one cannot take issue with his level of responsibility in leading the way by facing the danger. Jacob could have avoided this perilous situation if it were not for his faith in following God's command for him to return. In this, we see a changed Jacob. He chooses the dangerous journey because God has chosen it for him and he protects his family at the risk of his own life.  

Genesis 33:20
There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

The man who wrestled with God limped back and forth to gather the stones he needed to erect an altar that reached high into sky declaring boldly, "Israel's God is El!" (short for Elohim) In other words, "I, Israel (formerly Jacob), worship the one, true God. The only God that exists… He is my God! He isn't just God in general, He is my God specifically. I worship Him. God is God of Israel!"

Saturday, October 14, 2017

day no. 14,236: our present privilege should inform our present duty

"Let present privilege awaken us to present duty." - C. H. Spurgeon

Remembering who we are and what we have been given by grace through faith in Jesus Christ should produce a peculiar power. When the true disciple hears, "It is finished!" it spurs him on to greater endurance, not lesser indifference.

Friday, October 13, 2017

day no. 14,235: crown the Head and the whole body shares the honour

"Crown the Head and the whole body shares the honour"  - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

1 Corinthians 11:3

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Ephesians 5:23

For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior.

When Jesus is honored, we are honored if we are in Him. When the Head receives its crown, the hands do not complain. Crowns are for heads. The hands are blessed when the head carries the weight of the crown for the rest of the body. The hands are honored as part of the body whose Head is crowned.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

day no. 14,234: who, if and for how long?

In reflecting upon Exodus 33-34, I had the following thought:

If you choose God, you will have Him completely and forever. If you choose the world, you might obtain it, but only in part, only for a moment, and even then only to be taken away forever.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

day no. 14,233: wrestling with God

Genesis 32:24-30
And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Before you get too carried away thinking Jacob walked away from an encounter with God victorious, consider again the details. Jacob would not let go and had his hip placed permanently out of joint by a flick of God's finger. Jacob did not pin God down. Jacob did not wear God out. He held on to God. Despite his fear of the future, he refused to let go of God. This was not easily done. It took all night and there were times where I imagine he felt like letting go of God altogether, but he persevered until the sun rose and received God's blessing as a result, and a new name, a new identity: no longer the trickster, the deceiver, but the one who wrestled and struggled with God, the one who gained hard fought blessing. Jacob previously received his father's blessing by deception, but on this night he received his Father's blessing by determination.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

day no. 14,232: holding Him to His promises

Genesis 32:9-12
And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, that I may do you good,’ 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. 11 Please deliver me from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him, that he may come and attack me, the mothers with the children. 12 But you said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’"

Jacob holds God to His promises and we should too. God is given glory when we believe His promises and call Him to act in accordance with what He has clearly said He would do. This is faith. This is believing that God is Who He says He is and will do what He said He will do.

Monday, October 9, 2017

day no. 14,231: two camps

Genesis 32:1-2
Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. 2 And when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God's camp!” So he called the name of that place Mahanaim.

Mahanaim means "two camps." Jacob is beginning his story as a God story. God is with him and he is with God wherever he goes.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

day no. 14,230: the fear of his father Isaac

Genesis 31:53
So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac

While Laban swears by gods plural, Jacob swears by God singular and adds the emphatic, "the Fear of his father Isaac." Make no mistake about it, Jacob's intention is to place the fear of God into Laban. His contention is not only that there is only one, true God; but additionally, that this God is to be feared. He cannot be lost like one of Laban's household gods. As for them, what are they? They can be taken, manipulated, broken, rusted, misplaced, or lost altogether. Laban is travelling mile after mile trying to find a god who needs his help. Jacob is travelling mile after mile knowing it is God who helps him.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

day no. 14,229: always seen and heard

Genesis 31:50
If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.
 
Even when no one else sees, God sees. Even when no one else knows, God knows. This is the great comfort of the child of God and the great terror of those who oppose Him.

Friday, October 6, 2017

day no. 14,228: you are

Jeremiah 23:33
When one of this people, or a prophet or a priest asks you, "What is the burden of the Lord?" you shall say to them, "You are."

This is one of the greatest comebacks of all time. So much so that we still use it. And to make matters even better, this is God instructing Jeremiah on how to respond to his critics. "You are!" was God's idea.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

day no. 14,227: father and husband hunger... satisfied

Genesis 29:30
So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years.

Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah and everyone knew. Jacob knew it. Rachel knew it. Leah knew it. And God knew it…

Genesis 29:31
When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

When no one else was looking out for Leah, God saw her and provided for her. Her father offloaded her, her husband ignored it, but God took notice and took care of her…

Genesis 29:35
And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she ceased bearing.

And finally, God won her over. While the sting of being ignored and overlooked still stung, the attention God gave her served as salve for her wounds. He was the Father and Husband she always wanted. Leah could have just as easily said that she didn't need a father or a husband because they failed to live up to her desires. But the longing of her soul was not to be fatherless or husbandless, but to find a father and a husband that matched the depth of her true desires. In God, she found both.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

day no. 14,226: the long and short of it

Genesis 29:20
So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.
 
7 years ago I had a 1 1/2 year old son and a 6 month old daughter. I had never purchased a home or planted a church. Today, I have an 8 year old son, a 7 year old daughter, a 5 year old son, a 4 year old daughter, a 1 year old son, and a 3 month old baby girl. I've bought 3 homes and planted 2 churches. This all happened in the same amount of time that flew by for Jacob as he worked and waited to marry Rachel.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

day no. 14,225: baby steps

Genesis 28:20-22
Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God's house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you."
 
Often our initial steps toward Jesus are clumsy. Here Jacob begins to lean in, but his heart is still clouded with caveats. His initial interaction with God is one of quid pro quo. As painful as this is to watch, it is likely akin to the place many of us who now maturely live began. There is a lot of good in this, a heart that wants to receive and to give, but it is a young, immature faith. That said, the smallest degree of genuine faith when present, even in an otherwise dirty soul, will eventually spring up to fruitful life.

Monday, October 2, 2017

day no. 14,224: the former and the ladder

Genesis 28:12
And (Jacob) dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
 
Jesus makes it clear in John 1:51 that He is the ladder that connects Heaven to earth. Jesus is Heaven descending to bless the earth. Jesus is the escalator upwards bringing the sons of men to the presence of God. There is one bridge between God and man, the Godman, Jesus Christ who here appears to Jacob.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

day no. 14,223: hit points

"If you throw a rock into a pack of stray dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit."
- D. L. Moody
 
Whenever you try to preach or teach a Biblical principle to a group in general, you will find a few individuals who take exception. This means your words are hitting their mark.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

day no. 14,222: Rebekah, interrupted

Genesis 27:45
Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?”
 
Rebekah's plans also fall flat. She sends Jacob off so that she will not have to see him die, but in sending him off, she will never see him ever again. By the time Jacob returns, she will have passed away. Thus the plans of Isaac and Rebekah are both interrupted. Esau did not receive the blessing and Jacob was never again seen by this mother. By their interference, Isaac was prevented from giving what he wanted and Rebekah was prevented from keeping what she wanted.

Friday, September 29, 2017

day no. 14,221: blessings are received, not taken

Genesis 27:29
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother's sons bow down to you.
Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!

Isaac attempted to usurp God's plan by blessing Esau instead of Jacob. Jacob attempted to usurp his father's plan by appearing before his father under the guise of his brother Esau. And in the midst of all this deception and rebellion was the sought after blessing. But blessings are received, not taken and God had communicated clearly from the beginning which son was to receive the baton. So Jacob cheats and tricks his way into a birthright and blessing that was already his and Isaac plots and plans to pass the privilege exclusively to Esau. But Jacob had already been chosen by God to receive the blessing. So all the maneuvers on either side counted for nothing toward the blessing.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

day no. 14,220: flying in the face of God

Genesis 27:1-4
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
 
Why is Isaac trying to bless Esau? Because it is who he would choose if given the choice. But to whom did God say the blessing would go? Jacob. So while one may empathize with Isaac's zeal to bless the child he loves, it should be noted that his attempts to do so fly in the face of the clear will of God.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

day no. 14,219: whomever they with one become

Genesis 26:34-35
When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah
 
Next to who you will worship, who you will marry is the most important decision you will ever make (and not just for you). While it's true that a marriage couple begins a brand new family, they don't do so in a vacuum. Their existing families are blessed or cursed by whomever they with one become.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

day no. 14,218: they came in conflict and walked away with peace

Genesis 26:30-32
So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. 32 That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.”
 
During the course of reading Genesis 26 we find most people coming to Isaac in conflict and all walking away in peace. Isaac was a peacemaker. Whatever you were looking for when you went looking for Isaac, it appears you always walked away from him with peace. Even here, we find him preparing a feast and making promises of peace to people who have done nothing but harass him previously. Isaac was often ready to forgive and quick to act if asked to give it.

Monday, September 25, 2017

day no. 14,217: made to make much of someone else

Genesis 26:23-25
From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well.

As much as we might want to have blessings multiplied for our own sake, it is never as satisfying as when they are multiplied for another's sake. Our lives were designed to bring glory to another and those who embrace this part of their DNA find fuller expression of who they are and deeper satisfaction in being who they are than those who continually run their accomplishments up the flagpole.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

day no. 14,216: water wherever he walked

Genesis 26:22
And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."
 
Isaac accommodated others' inclinations. He did not box out or throw elbows. He simply moved on and sought a peaceful existence in the land where God was blessing his productivity. As vital as water was, Isaac valued peace more and trusted God to provide water wherever he walked.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

day no. 14,215: their giggles gave it away

Genesis 26:8-9
When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. 9 So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
 
I love that Isaac and Rebekah's marital bliss overflowed in such common, everyday ways that anyone observing them knew that they were married. They laughed and played in such a way in public that it implied also a private relationship. Oh that more Christian marriages were more publically identified by this kind of stereotype instead of the blank stares over bland food that so often serves as the prototype for Christian, married life.

Friday, September 22, 2017

day no. 14,214: hot wives and cold feet

Genesis 26:4-5, 7
"I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my law." …7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance.

Isaac did not fall far from the tree. He inherited the blessing of his father Abraham and his bad habits to boot. Abraham and Isaac both had hot wives, cold feet and covenant from God.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

day no. 14,213: where it really gets personal

https://utmost.org/the-secret-of-the-lord/
 
"What is the sign of a friend? Is it that he tells you his secret sorrows? No, it is that he tells you his secret joys. Many people will confide their secret sorrows to you, but the final mark of intimacy is when they share their secret joys with you." – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, June 3, 2017
 
This is an incredible insight I have tried, tested and affirmed both in my own heart and in my experience in life, friendship, marriage, parenting and ministry.
 
Without question, I have heard more confessions of secret sorrow and struggle than I have heard of secret pleasures and joys. It takes a degree of vulnerability to let someone else see your hidden wounds, but it takes far greater transparency and trust to willfully guide someone to your secret treasures. What you truly like and love most is more the essence of who you are and would choose to be. So in keeping, it is often the most difficult thing to say out loud, even to someone who knows us well.